Thousands of hipsters deliberately risked appearing dangerously sincere when their ironic competition suddenly turned competitive.
It was the day the hipster universe finally disappeared down a rabbit hole of irony. Last Saturday, 6 000 hip Berliners converged on a club in east Berlin for the Hipster Olympics, a series of nine ironic sports events with the ironically unironic aim of finding the city's most "athletic" hipsters.
Twelve teams of five hipsters went head to head in – among other events – a skinny-jeans tug-of-war, a vinyl-spinning marathon, a horn-rimmed-glasses-throwing contest and a jute-bag race. Teams were selected from dozens of online applicants by the Original Hipster Olympics Committee, headed by 24-year-old student Alexander Bernikas. "We had to select the coolest ones," he said, slightly sincerely.
It was both every hipster's dream and worst nightmare. Competitors needed to care enough to win but be ironic enough to look like they didn't care. "It was ironic and it was fun," explained Bernikas, "but it was also very competitive. It required some thought and conditioning."
Nothing symbolised this ironic mess more than the jute-bag race, which saw competitors climb inside a hip cotton shoulder-bag and hop along a short track – an infinitely harder task than the traditional sack race.
To win the contest, says Bernikas, hipsters needed to train beforehand – but at the risk of looking dangerously sincere.
The winning team – a group of broadcasters from local radio station Jam FM – straddled this knife-edge well. "They were not professional," says a confusingly deadpan Bernikas, "they were ironic."
In the world of the hipster, the older something is, the less likely it is to be hip. But paradoxically, the Hipster Olympics – which only attracted 700 spectators last year – have increased in popularity, which, ironically, undermines its claims to irony.
"It was much better than last year, because it was much bigger," argues Bernikas, who admittedly may have been being ironic. – © Guardian News and Media 2012